Sometimes, you cannot determine when tipping in Asia becomes a crime and when it is an act of gratuity. If you are constantly going to places and Asia is your favorite destination, it is essential that you understand carefully the complicated nature of tipping. This way, you will know when to be utterly generous and when to play thrifty.
Some places in Bangkok expect tips, especially from foreigners, while other places do not. Westernized establishments expect you to tip. If you eat at top-end restaurants, a10% service charge is added to your bill. You can also give a tip to your waiter. Down-scale restaurants do not expect tips. Porters from five-star establishments expect tips of 20 to 50 baht depending on your luggage. If you are in a cab, there is no need to haggle about the fare since Bangkok taxis are metered. For the final fare, you should round to the nearest five baht.
Tipping in Hong Kong is a sign of etiquette. Most restaurants in Hong Kong add the 10% service charge to your bill but the extra payment usually goes to the owner not the staff. If you eat in a nice restaurant, a tip of HK$100 will suffice. Porters in expensive hotels expect either HK$10 or HK$20, and if you are taking a cab, expect drivers to round your fare up to the nearest dollar.
People in Jakarta expect extra rupiahs for their services. If you eat in sophisticated restaurants in Jakarta and the service is impressive, an additional 1,000 rupiahs to your bill will do. You can tip porters 100 rupiahs for each bag they carry. And for taxis, refuse an additional 1,000 rupiah mark-up for your fare as 500 rupiahs will do.
Westernized establishments in Kuala Lumpur entertain tips and there is usually a 10% service charge for every meal that you eat and every room you book. But if you are ordering for a laksa in one of the many vendors, there is no need for extra payment. Five-star hotel porters accept one or two ringgits as tip but cheaper establishments do not require this. For metered taxis, you can round up your fare to the nearest ringgit but if it is not metered, then you can bargain.
Tipping is normal in Manila, and if you want to get more impressive services, increase your 10% tip. It is customary in Manila to add 5% to 10% to your bill even if another 10% service charge has already been added. If a porter helps you, your 20 pesos for each bag is enough. Since metered taxis are common in Manila, if you are going to pay for your fare, you can round it up to the nearest five pesos.
In Seoul, tipping is not part of the deal. But if you are staying at an international hotel, a 10% service charge is added. Remember, if you are eating in a Korean restaurant, there is no need for a tip. If you eat in an Italian restaurant, you can be generous. This is the same for taxi drivers.
Finally, Singapore does not encourage tipping. In fact, it is unlawful in that country. This is also true in Taipei, Japan, and China. Therefore, if you are in these countries, the best thing to do is to pay exactly what you are asked to pay, whether you are in a restaurant or a hotel. However, if you are taking a taxi, drivers do not mind if you round up your fare to the next Singaporean dollar or NT.